(Brian) Trung-Duc Tran is a final year PhD candidate in Economics at the University of Melbourne. His research interests are in the field of macro-econometrics. Specifically, his research agendas focus on: (1) measuring uncertainty and its macroeconomic effects and (2) studying the transmission of uncertainty shocks in the economy - by using large data sets and combining evidence from both econometric and dynamic general equilibrium models.
His key research paper is titled ‘The Effects of Commodity Price Uncertainty Shocks on Small Commodity-Exporting Economies’. This paper shows how uncertainty shocks in the commodity market affect economic activity in a small commodity-exporting country. He does so by proposing a commodity uncertainty index that is measured by the conditional volatility of the unpredictable component of commodity prices. Secondly, using Australia as a case study, a VAR model is estimated using the newly-constructed commodity price uncertainty index. Thirdly, he builds a multi-sector DSGE model of the Australian economy by estimating key structural parameters to match the VAR responses. The paper finds that there has been more uncertainty in the commodity market in recent period. Both in the VAR and the DSGE model, commodity price uncertainty shocks trigger precautionary response and cause declines in output, consumption and investment. In contrast, empirical evidence shows that hours-worked does not fall and could be explained by the sectoral allocation effect in the structural model.
He has two other papers for his PhD thesis. The first paper titled ‘Google it up! A Google trends-based uncertainty index for the United States and Australia’ proposes a novel measure of uncertainty by using Google search data and study the effects of uncertainty at the national level in the United States and Australia. The paper is jointly published in the Economic Letters with Efrem Castelnuovo. The other paper, ‘Uncertainty in a disaggregate model: a data-rich approach using Google search queries’ is a joint working paper with Kalvinder Shields. This paper extends the method proposed in his first paper to measure uncertainty for every state in the United States and highlight the importance of studying the effect uncertainty at a more disaggregated regional level of the economy. The disaggregate model is shown to capture important spillover effects which a model focusing only on aggregate data would overlook.
More information about his research can be found here.